Homeowners rely on their insurance policies to help rebuild their homes after there is an accident or weather damage. But claim denial or inadequate settlements can make a bad and stressful situation worse. There are ways to dispute these decisions, however.
Typical reasons for denial of property insurance claims or low settlements include:
- Lack of coverage where homeowner policies do not cover a specific peril or excludes certain events.
- Policyholders missing deadlines for reporting claims.
- Submitting inadequate documentation supporting a claim such as photographs, videos, or witness statements.
An adjuster usually prepares an initial written appraisal for insurance companies to determine the extent of damage. Insurance carriers usually do not charge for the initial appraisal.
Before contacting your insurer, you should carefully review coverage and what types of events or damage are covered. Review policies for included perils, any exclusions and the claim submission process.
Gather photographs, eyewitness statements, videos, and other important documentation. Write out questions about your coverage while reading the policy before you discuss them with your agent.
You may seek another professional opinion if your claim was denied after it was re-examined by your carrier. An independent appraiser or public insurance adjustor may provide these opinions. Public insurance adjustors are not affiliated with insurance carriers, and policyholders may hire them to help settle claims.
Be sure to check their references and whether they are licensed in Oklahoma. Call the Oklahoma Insurance Department to confirm their record. Avoid hiring a public insurance adjustor who conducts in-person solicitations after a catastrophe.
Independent adjustors may charge up to 15% of the settlement claim. There are no guarantees that claims will be settled.
If the adjustor’s recommendation supports your claim, you may contact your carrier and request that you speak to the claims manager. You can also request another review of your claim.
Policyholders may also file a complaint with the Oklahoma Insurance Department if, after hiring an independent third party, the insurance company still denies the claim or offers an unreasonably low settlement. Consider this option if you believe that the carrier unfairly denied your claim and there should be an investigation on whether the carrier complied with the policy or Oklahoma law.
Attorneys may also assist your deal with insurance companies when you file a claim. They can help you assure that your claim is appropriately and legally resolved.